For years, we’ve all been hearing about the importance of SEO. I can’t even begin to estimate how many times we’ve been involved with potential clients who’ve said ‘we’re spending all of our marketing budget on SEO right now’, or at least the lion’s share. Well, it looks like that lion is about to be eaten.
One thing I’ve learned about Search Engine Optimization is that it’s an ever-changing target. The rules shift constantly. And there have been a number of articles published recently about rampant cheating there. Here’s one from the New York Times called ‘The Dirty Little Secrets of Search’. Still, many brands are still obsessed with doing whatever it takes to turn up extremely high in the rankings.
It just goes to show, old habits die hard. For one thing, advertisers on Google sit on top of even the highest-ranked brand in a given category. And now there’s the news about social media being poised to surpass SEO as the number one marketing tool.
It makes perfect sense. Social media is where consumers like you and I get to choose which brands are worthy of receiving the most buzz. And while this can certainly be influenced by smart social marketing programs, at least those are created to get people to participate. Spending money on Google keywords to improve your ranking only focuses attention (and budgets) on one place – and that’s Google.
The more time people spend on Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, LinkedIn and other social sites, the less impact your SEO budget will have. That’s because potential customers are getting information, and brand recommendations from peers today.
If you really want to influence your brand evangelists, the best thing you can do is provide them with fun, creative tools for spreading the word on social sites. In essence, marketing is shifting from the kingdom of SEO to a much more democratic model. Which means in order to be effective, your budget needs to shift as well.